Sona Nanotech (SONA.C) entered into service and supply agreements with a European-based contract organization to manufacture its COVID-19 rapid response virus detection test yesterday.
The company has also entered into a letter of intent agreement with an international distributor representing the health authority of a G20 country for the purchase of two million test kits.
Screening tests are critical tools in dealing with rapidly evolving and large-scale outbreaks that place huge pressures on healthcare systems, like Covid-19. These tests can rapidly identify at-risk patients, which allows the medical community to focus its resources on the patients that need help the most.
The company will integrate its nanotechnology into a disposable lateral flow detection test platform to create a new rapid test for COVID-19. Lateral flow technology is best known for its use in home pregnancy tests, but it has been used to detect a wide range of viruses and infectious diseases including HIV, ebola and hepatitis.
The test is still in development, but anticipates completing a functional prototype and completing third party validation tests in the near future. Research and development is being undertaken with consortium partners in Germany and Scotland and the company’s lab in Dartmouth, N.S., where lab techs are working with the virus’s antigen and antibodies under the supervision of the company’s chief technology officer, the head of R&D, president and CEO.
Currently, there is no lateral flow test specific to COVID-19. The majority of testing uses molecular based technology, a testing platform that costs $200 per test, takes 2-4 hours to produce results, and requires specialized lab equipment and technicians to operate.
Sona’s test changes all that. Their test is expected to produce results in 5-15 minutes and is anticipated to cost less than $50. It will also not require any additional equipment and can be administered by anyone at the point of care.
The test could be ideal for use in a variety of scenarios, such as:
An in-home test and monitoring
To identify if patients require further testing or treatment in a clinical setting
To verify if patients are ready for release from quarantine
To screen individuals prior to entering closed public venues such as cruise ships and airplanes
Recently, many serological lateral flow tests, designed primarily to identify antibodies present postinfection, have been announced. These tests have been known to produce false-positive and false-negative results if a patient has an unrelated infection like an ear infection, tooth infection, or the seasonal flu. Sona’s test is being developed and tested to indicate a positive result only when the COVID-19 virus is present, allowing for a direct and clear interpretation.
Sona’s detection test can be used to screen and rapidly identify patients to determine if they are ‘at risk’ or ‘not at risk’ of Covid-19. This will help ease the burden on health practitioners and allow resources to be diverted to those who need it most.
The manufacturing service and supply agreements are firm commitments, and the company will finance the manufacturing set-up and transfer its best technology for test-kit manufacturing only. The company has applied for funding from the Canadian federal government for the advanced development of a test prototype, and also to accelerate manufacturing scale-up. Actual manufacturing won’t start, however, until the orders are in and the money has arrived.